In what is being called a bad omen for Egypt that recently elected military strongman Abdel Fatah al Sisi as the new president, three Al Jazeera staff members were sentenced for seven years imprisonment.
The charges leveled against these journalists were that of aiding terrorists and/or banned organizations by “publishing lies.”
Journalists and human rights advocates condemned the decision, calling it a “political show trial” and an indicator that Egypt going back to the old days of tyranny and persecution under Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi.
The ruling was issued in a Cairo court where convicted Al Jazeera staffers, journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed were sentenced between seven and ten years in a maximum security prison.
Louisa Loveluck — a British reporter who writes for the Christian Science Monitor and the Telegraph — was present at the hearing and posted a video of the moment when the Al Jazeera journalists reacted to their verdict.
"They will pay for this, I promise they will pay for this," Mohamed Fahmy shouts as police drag him from the courtroom cage, after he was sentenced to seven years for doing his job.
The trial is being called a shocking blow to freedom of speech in Egypt, because – as international human rights organization Amnesty International notes – “the prosecution failed to produce a single shred of solid evidence”.
Even worse is the fact that Sisi refused to pardon the Al Jazeera staff members, ignoring pleas from western leaders to release them and other political prisoners.
This level of commitment to the future of journalism shown by the recently-elected president, for many, confirms the long-established speculation that, perhaps, Egypt has come full circle; from the ouster of one military strongman to the welcome of another.
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